10 Must-Haves for Road Trips with Young Kids

10 Must-Haves for Road Trips with Young Kids

I have been compensated by Johnson’s® Baby for this post; however, I am sharing my own thoughts. All opinions are my own.  

Travel has been an important part of my life for a very long time, so I made the decision when I got pregnant a few years ago to absolutely make it a part of my children’s lives as well. At the time, like many of the idealistic visions I had of continuing to do the same things in life I did pre-kids, I was convinced including our little ones in our travels would be easy. Ha. Hahaha. I was also sure that road trips would especially be a breeze. The reality is that traveling with young kids is freaking hard, man, and, for the most part, road trips are more complicated than the trips we take via plane (even internationally).

Despite the fact that the potential for disaster is strong with road trips, we take a whole lot of them – and because Robbie is on the road with the band about half the year, many of these road trips are just the kids and me. We go visit my sister in Indianapolis (a 3-4 hour drive from Chicago) every couple of months, we drive to visit Robbie several times a year when the band plays the midwest, and we take a few trips up to our favorite lake in Wisconsin during the summer months. So I quickly had to learn ways to make these road trips tolerable – and eventually, even enjoyable – with 2 small kids. It turns out that quite a bit of it has to do with the items I bring with us on these trips. And today I thought I’d share my road trip must-haves with you, in hopes it helps those of you who plan on traveling by car with your own little ones this year.

1. Quick, non-messy snacks. Our go-to road trip snacks are apples, fish crackers, and string cheese. They don’t make sticky messes and are easy to throw in a bag. (I would be lying, however, if I said we didn’t find hundreds of stray fish crackers in Emmett’s car seat on the regular.)

2. Extra clothes for the ride. Kids on road trips are really good at finding ways to ruin whatever they’re wearing along the way. We always have outfit changes in the car, and we almost always need them.

3. Books. Good old-fashioned books are key, not only for the actual time on the road, but also for the kids to keep entertained at the destination itself. We like board books because they’re harder to destroy and easier to clean.

4. Filled reusable water bottles. My kids get thirsty often on road trips (I do too!), and the water is nice for quick car clean ups as we ll.

5. Multi use bath and body products. We never leave for road trips without 3 products: AVEENO® Baby Soothing Relief Moisturizing Cream, JOHNSON’S® HEAD-TO-TOE® Baby Wash, and JOHNSON’S® Baby Bubble Bath. I get all 3 of them from our local Walmart (in the baby product aisle inside of the kids’ section), and they are the first things I throw in my travel bag because they can be used for so many things, both in the car and at our destination. I use JOHNSON’S® HEAD-TO-TOE® Baby Wash to wash their little hands and clean up car spills along the way, and then later for shampoo and body wash for their baths (and for the adult showers!) once we’ve arrived. The entire family uses AVEENO® Baby Soothing Relief Moisturizing Cream after our frequent bathroom stops and hand washes while on the road, and we continue to use it multiple times a day at our destination as well. And JOHNSON’S® Baby Bubble Bath is their favorite product to use at home, so it brings them a sense of comfort and makes baths fun away from home. It’s really nice to be able to only have to rely on these few tried and true JOHNSON’S® and AVEENO® baby products to so conveniently get us through these trips.

6. A medication bag. For peace of mind, I always carry a small bag containing a thermometer, allergy medicine, Children’s Tylenol, bandages, etc. in my bag for road trips. Sometimes we really do need them, and it’s nice not to have to haul the kids to the store in the middle of a road trip to buy them.

7. Special toys from home. Essley’s pink owl and Emmett’s dinosaur toy rarely leave their sides at home, and they join us for road trips too. Having pieces of comfort from home during the long car ride and stays at unfamiliar places makes the travel experience as a whole better for everyone. Trust me on this.

8. Blankets. Blankets are glorious things, you guys. I swear, it can be 95 degrees outside and my daughter wants a blanket in the car. And beyond the practical purposes, as with their special toys, blankets they love from home can provide them comfort when they’re staying in other places.

9. Washable markers and drawing pads. My 2 year old would sit and draw all day if it was an option for him, so I bring washable markers and paper everywhere we go, even close to home. They are life savers for road trips, and keep the kids occupied for more time than you’d think.

10. Hand sanitizer. I am not a germaphobe by any means, but my kids have gotten sick during travels (so, so not fun) enough times that I now do whatever I can to avoid it. We don’t even get in the car for a road trip until I am armed with hand sanitizer or antibacterial wipes.

And there you have it – my 10 must-have items for taking road trips with little ones. I’d love to hear your own personal must-haves, so please let me know what I’ve missed in the comments!



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